By 2025, more than 14 million self-driving cars will be produced each year, resulting in a global installed base of more than 22 million consumer vehicles, according to a new forecast from Juniper Research.
Much of the market's initial growth will come from heavy investments by companies such as Uber, Lyft, Didi Chuxing, Google and Baidu, according to the report, which predicts that one of the key early adopters of driverless vehicles will be city-based taxi services.
The research – Autonomous Vehicles & ADAS: Adoption, Regulation & Business Models 2016-2025 – predicts that the market adoption of autonomous vehicle technology will accelerate over the next few years, driven by:
- Rapid developments in technology;
- Increasingly stringent vehicle safety specifications; and
- Environmental pressures.
“The introduction of driverless cars will result in fundamental changes to the automotive world and society in general,” said research author Gareth Owen.
“It is clear that the boundaries between private vehicle ownership, car sharing and rental fleets will increasingly become blurred.”
A number of car manufacturers are accelerating their development and testing programmes for self-driving vehicles, noted the research, with companies including BMW, Toyota and GM planning to launch production vehicles.
As a result, Juniper believes that driverless vehicles will start to become widespread between 2020 and 2025.
However, these driverless vehicles will initially be confined to city centres and major routes, said Juniper, as they will require extensive vehicle-to-everything (V2X) infrastructure.
V2X will allow vehicles to communicate with each other and with surrounding infrastructure, such as road signals, to improve safety and efficiency.
Challenges ahead for the driverless industry
Although driverless vehicles offer significant opportunities for manufacturers, Juniper’s research highlights the disruption their arrival is likely to have on transportation systems around the world, with millions of professional drivers potentially being made redundant.
The research also warns that, despite the forecast growth in the numbers of self-driving vehicles, the autonomous vehicle industry must first convince the public that their vehicles are safe.
The warning follows the first fatality in an autonomous vehicle earlier this year, when a Tesla driver was killed in a crash while using the car’s Autopilot feature.
Previous consumer research has highlighted the importance of building trust in the safety of driverless cars. One survey found that almost half of UK consumers would be unwilling to travel as a passenger in a driverless car, with four in ten saying they would not trust an autonomous car to drive safely.